The Education Innovator #12
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The Education Innovator
 May 19, 2003 • Number 12
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What's inside...
Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Program, Montana
What's New
Under Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok testifies on the DC school choice initiative; OII helps to sponsor workshop on how to expand school choice capacity.
Innovations in the News
Greenville, SC parents say the parental choice initiative is definitely worth the effort; plus information on school choice, alternative certification, virtual schools, technology, and school capacity.

Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Program Draws Talented Professionals to Rural Schools
Using the slogan "You thought about it, now do it. TEACH!" the Northern Plains Transition to Teaching project is designed to provide a compact, rigorous, and diverse system of online teacher preparation to move seasoned professionals, with established records of excellence, into new careers in the public school classroom. This collaborative project prepares highly qualified teachers for the youth and adolescents in high need, mostly rural, schools in the states of Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Teacher candidates who successfully complete the required nine online credit hours are hired as qualified teachers in secondary schools. They are also assigned a mentor for their first year in the classroom. Upon successful completion of a total of 24 credit hours, candidates are fully certified to teach in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. All three states have reciprocity agreements.

This intensive, alternative certification process is a streamlined approach that takes less time than traditional teacher certification. Also, the methods used in this project afford high quality training through classroom observation by teacher mentors, as well as distance learning and other e-technologies suitable for rural learners. The project continues to support and assist certified teachers with professional induction and professional development through the three-year service obligation period.

Other unique characteristics of the NPTT project include:

  • An ongoing, nationwide recruitment and marketing effort that to date has resulted in attracting applicants from 34 states and from the military service; and
  • E-emersion in technology, including an e-application, e-library, e-curriculum, and e-discussions
The Northern Plains Transition to Teaching Project received a grant from the Transition to Teaching program administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement. For more information about this project, go to: For more information about the Transition to Teaching grant program, go to

Troops-to-Teachers participants are eligible to receive a stipend to pay for the Northern Plains alternative certification process. For information about the regional Troops-to-Teachers program see For information about the national Troops-to-Teachers program that OII helps to administer, go to

Rural education is also important to the U.S. Department of Education. Education Secretary Rod Paige has launched a rural education task force. For information about the task force, see


What's New
Under Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok testifies on the DC school choice initiative
Under Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok testified before the House Committee on Government Reform regarding the District of Columbia's school choice initiative on May 9. To read the testimony, go to (May 9)

OII helps to sponsor workshop on how to expand school choice capacity
The Office of the Under Secretary and OII sponsored an all-day workshop with education practitioners and administrators to discuss how to expand school choice capacity. To read more about this workshop, see and news article below. (May 13)

Funding Opportunities
The Advanced Placement Incentives grant program opened on May 15. The applications for this program are due July 3, 2003. Incentive program grants are awarded to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, or national nonprofit educational entities to expand access to rigorous coursework for low income students in grades 6-12. Funding will be used to prepare these students for success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. For information on how to apply, go to

The Advanced Placement Test Fee grant program opened on May 16. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2003. Grants are awarded to State educational agencies to cover part or all of the cost of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test fees for low income students. For information on how to apply, go to

The grant competition for Models in Arts Education opened May 15, and the competition for Professional Development for Arts Education opened May 16. The deadline for both competitions is July 10, 2003. The competitions are open to local education agencies, including charter schools, that collaborate with at least one of the following: an institution of higher education; a state education agency; or a public or private nonprofit agency with a history of providing high quality professional development to public schools. For more information about these competitions, see and

The Teaching American History grant competition remains open. The deadline is July 7, 2003. The competition is open to local education agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, in partnership with nonprofit history or humanities organizations. For information about how to apply, go to For a webcast with information about preparing the grant application package, go to

The competition is also open for the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program (deadline June 3). For the application and guidance, go to

OII invites you to the first Innovations in Education Exchange Series. The panel discussion on "Exploring Virtual Schools" will be at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 29th in the U.S. Department of Education auditorium, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC. Contact to RSVP. If you cannot attend in person, a live webcast of this event will be aired and then archived for future viewing. To link to the webcast on or after May 29, go to


Innovations in the News

School Choice
Parents in Greenville, SC are taking advantage of the provision in the No Child Left Behind Act that allows students to transfer from failing schools. Even though students have to travel farther to their new schools, parents say it is definitely worth it. [More-Greenville Online] (May 7)

OII helped to sponsor a meeting on parental choice with school officials from across the country. [More-New Haven Register] (May13)

Alternative Teacher Certification
Teach for America is working to fill the gaps in Mississippi classrooms. Teach For America is a national program operating in 20 areas around the country - mostly inner cities and rural areas where teacher shortages are most pronounced. On average, Teach For America accepts about 2,000 college graduates a year who commit to two years of teaching through the program. [More-The Clarksdale Press Register] (April 17)

Virtual Schools
While online learning is not new to Cherokee County Georgia, school officials are putting new emphasis on the virtual classroom for high school students in the 2003-04 academic years. The program began three years ago and has grown from a half dozen students enrolled the first year to more than 50 this year. [More-The Atlanta Journal Constitution] (May 1)

There are 150 Colorado students who attend Connections Academy, a public virtual school. Connections Academy, a private operator of public K-8 virtual schools, is based in Baltimore and also has about 300 students in Wisconsin. While students note they miss their friends, they also admit they are learning more now, than at the traditional public school. [More-The Daily Sentinel] (May 1)

A national study of schoolhouse technology praises Virginia as a leader in online testing. Virginia is one of 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that administers at least some state tests to students by computer, reports the "Technology Counts 2003" study released today by Education Week. [More-The Virginian Pilot] (May 8)

School Capacity
New Schools Venture Fund announced the launch of its new Performance Accelerator Fund, targeted at $20 million and designed to invest in ventures that enhance the capacity of school systems to produce high levels of student achievement. [More-PR Newswire] (May 12)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011